Coronavirus puts mountain biking season in peril after successful first race


Sophomore Luke Willis tears through mud on the trails of Swasey. Photo courtesy of Katherine Csizmadia

The Drake mountain biking team won their first race at Swasey Recreation Area on Mar. 7, yet the coronavirus threatens to end the rest of their season.

The race was a muddy, five mile loop with a 586 feet elevation gain. Riders had to not only battle the uphill climb, but withstand the rain pelting down as they raced. Varsity girls’ faced these elements thrice over, while the varsity boys’ raced four laps around this treacherous track. 

The team won with 4,089 points, narrowly beating Redwood by six points. The winning team included sophomores Luke Willis, Maximilan Vavrek, and Ashton Stranton; juniors Townsend Moore, Finn Melton, and Maggie Nelson, along with seniors Audrey Fehlhaber and Justine Mcquat. Both Fehlhaber and Mcquat have ridden for the team since freshman year. 

“I thought the race went well for the team. We had a lot of strong underclassmen come into their own and see their training pay off,” senior Sasha Plitcha said. 

Unfortunately, the coronavirus crisis makes the Drake mountain biking team’s future uncertain. Like the rest of Drake spring sports, all mountain biking practices and meets were suspended for the rest of April.  

“They cancelled the second, third, and fourth races, but haven’t made a solid decision about the last two races of the seasons which are in May. People are pretty skeptical, but it’s officially still up in the air,” Fehlhaber said. 

While the state of the season is unclear, the teams’ victory at Swasey shows Drake is still king of the mountain.